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Unisa in the service of Africa

As South Africa celebrates Heritage Day this weekend, Unisa remains steadfast in its commitment to being rooted in the development of Africa and its people. Guided by its vision to be the African university in the service of humanity, it is the single dedicated distance institution that has been serving African educational needs for close to 150 years. Unisa has been a leading institution in the academia and curriculum transformation agenda in the country and the continent. This is one of its various efforts seeking to overcome and reconcile challenges that confront society.

Unisa is a university fully engaged with and rooted in its mission to be responsive to the challenges faced by its communities. It identifies and empathises with the struggles faced by its communities and formulates programmes that help uplift them. At Unisa, the transformation agenda is fundamental and purposeful advancement towards specified goals: individual, collective, cultural, and institutional, aimed at high performance, effectiveness and excellence. This entails improvement and continuous renewal guided by justice and ethical action. As a university rooted in its Africanness, it promotes ubuntu, anti-racism, and self-worth in the context of cultural and intellectual differences for the attainment of equality and non-discrimination. It is furthermore committed to construct, together with its stakeholders, a DNA characterised by openness, scholarly tradition, critical thinking, self-reflection, and the values of African cultures such as inclusiveness and community.

In academia, the university is leading the transformation and decolonisation of curriculum agendas in the higher education system. Various initiatives are in place to deal with the issue of curricular and research reforms. This is guided by the curriculum policy to promote African thought, philosophies, interests and epistemologies through inquiry, scholarship and partnership. A variety of institutes and programmes are in place—leading from the front in the area of African scholarship and knowledge production—including the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute, which encourages debate on the continent’s future and invests in the training of future leaders.

The institution has and old and illustrious heritage in South Africa and the continent. As one of the largest universities in the world, it boasts a colourful repertoire of African leaders who count it as their alma mater, such as former South African President Nelson Mandela; Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu; former Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe; anti-apartheid activist, Ahmed Kathrada; President Cyril Ramaphosa; and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, who is currently the Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, among many other illustrious alumni.

Unisa is an African university with a strong heritage of serving causes that advance communities and humanity in Africa; it is an institution rooted in Africanness!

*By Tshimangadzo Mphaphuli, Senior Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2021/09/23